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Search for Missing Free Diver Suspended

September 19, 2015, 8:08 PM HST
* Updated September 19, 8:12 PM
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The search for a missing free diver off the coast of North Kohala was suspended by the United States Coast Guard Saturday.

Fifty-five-year-old Loren “Jamie” Salis was last seen at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. A relative and a friend notified watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu at 2:40 a.m. Thursday. They told officials that Salis had been wearing a black wetsuit and had been in the vicinity of North Kohala at the end of Old Coast Guard Road.

Batallion Chief Ty Medeiros told Big Island Now Saturday evening that HFD also suspended its search, as of 4 p.m.

A total of 22 sorties were conducted by rescue crews who searched about 3,000 square miles. The crews also deployed three self-locating datum marker buoys.

“The suspension of an active search and rescue case without definitive resolution is one of the most difficult decisions to make,” said Captain Shannon Gilreath, commanding officer at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “We have saturated the area in an attempt to locate Mr. Salis but, pending further developments, we have decided to suspend the active search. Our prayers go out to the family.”

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The Coast Guard used a HC-130 Hercules airplane crew and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew in the search. Both crews were from Coast Guard Air Station at Barbers Point. Coast Guard Cutter Ahi and a Coast Guard auxiliary airplane were also used in the search.

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Ten Hawai’i County Fire Department personnel also participated in the efforts with helicopter aerial searches, dive team efforts, and rescue boat personnel.

Bataliion Chief Medeiros said that ocean searches are generally suspended after three days if no evidence of the missing person is found.

Upon arrival Thursday, the Dolphin crew located a submerged dive light, but were unable to determine if the diver had been in the area. HFD crew recovered the light and a fishing spear.

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Coast Guard officials say that the disappearance of Salis does not appear to be connected to Wednesday night’s tsunami advisory since the man went missing prior to the anticipated arrival of earthquake generated waves or currents.

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